Constant monitoring of blood pressure is important for monitoring one’s health. The higher the blood pressure, the greater the risks are of having future health problems that could ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke.
To monitor your blood pressure at home, you need to buy a blood pressure monitor. However, you need to consider the following before buying a monitoring device:
Cuff size – when checking your blood pressure on your own, the cuff should fit accurately to give the right blood pressure measurements. You need to ask your nurse or a doctor the right cuff size before buying the device.
Cost – ask your health insurance provider whether your insurance policy will cover the cost of purchasing a home blood pressure monitor.
Display – the display on your device should show clear and easy-to-read readings.
Before you head out to buy a blood pressure monitor, confirm with your doctor that it has been validated. Moreover, you need to ensure its accuracy every year by taking it to your doctor. He or she will compare its readings with those from a different blood pressure monitor.
The best way to know whether you are buying a good monitor is by checking the British Hypertension Society or Dabl Education Trust lists.
Tips for Accurate Usage
No matter what kind of blood pressure monitoring device you are using, you need some practice and training in order to use it properly. Here are some tips that will help you measure your blood pressure well:
Device Accuracy – before using the blood pressure monitor, have your doctor compare its readings to those from the office model. Moreover, let the doctor watch as you take your own readings to see whether you are doing it correctly.
Avoid caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol – avoid these things for 30 minutes before taking your readings. You also need to use the toilet beforehand since a full bladder might increase the blood pressure reading.
Sit still before and throughout monitoring – once you are ready to take your reading, sit in a comfortable position for about 5 minutes. Try to think calm thoughts because stress will increase your readings.
Place the cuff over bare skin – if you place the cuff over your clothes, you are doing it wrong. You need to place it over your bare skin to get accurate readings.
Take repeat readings – after taking the first reading, wait two or three minutes, then take another one.
Your blood pressure will vary throughout the day and your readings will be higher in the morning. Moreover, your blood pressure readings might be higher outside your home.
Tracking Your Readings
Do you have an electronic personal health record? Record your info on your mobile device or computer for better tracking. Doing so gives you the option of sharing your readings with your family members and health care providers.
Long Term Benefits
If your blood pressure is under control, you might only need to check it several times a month. However, if you are just starting to monitor your pressure due to changes in medication or health problems such as diabetes, you might need to take readings more often. Just remember that monitoring your pressure at home should not be a substitute for going to the doctor.
Even if your readings are normal, do not stop taking your meds or change your diet as a result. Talk to your doctor before making any dietary changes. However, if you keep taking your readings and everything looks fine, you should be able to reduce the number of doctor appointments.
Monitoring your blood pressure at home does not have to be inconvenient or complicated. In the end, you might risk fewer blood pressure-related health complications and enjoy a healthier life.
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